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Performance anxiety

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  • Performance anxiety

    Not related to canoeing.

    I have a ton of experience showing carriage but that was over 12 years ago. I have very little experience showing in saddle classes (class A Morgan circuit) . I think I have identified my anxiety as class-trophobia....that when the ingate closes I'm ON COURSE even tho it's just round and round western pleasure.

    I'm not intimidated by the other horses or that I show against several world champions. I'm not intimated by the trainers even tho I show AOTS...I've had Morgans longer than most of them.

    I think my problem is that at home I have unlimited do overs, start overs, walk and think for a while but from the time we leave for the show I'm terrified of showing. And it gets VERY BAD when I'm in the make up ring. I actually believe I don't like to show. Until I'm home and then I can't wait for the next show. And then I do it all over again. This has been going on for 3 seasons. I'm watching a Morgan show streaming from KY horse park and despite the heat I SO WISH I WAS THERE SHOWING. I showed there last year and the place is wonderful.

    I've order 3 books (Jane Savoie among them) on riding anxiety and anxiety in general. I really need to work thru this because what I want most for myself is the relaxed fun that everyone else is having...chatting in the make up ring, laughing, smiling. In the pictures, my expression is like a woman facing a firing squad.

    I've know my fellow exhibitors for decades and most of my women friends also show at the same shows. We are non-competitive and enjoy each other's company. They are always sweet, encouraging, complimentary.

    Sometimes I think I need somebody to slap me and tell me to shut up, put me on my pony and shove me in the ring yelling over the ingate "GET OVER IT"!

    I should add that I've never had a bad experience in the ring and aside from falling off a month ago after a freak spook, my horse hasn't taken a misstep in the 4 years I've had him. I call this my unreasonable terror.
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
    Not related to canoeing.

    I have a ton of experience showing carriage but that was over 12 years ago. I have very little experience showing in saddle classes (class A Morgan circuit) . I think I have identified my anxiety as class-trophobia....that when the ingate closes I'm ON COURSE even tho it's just round and round western pleasure.

    I'm not intimidated by the other horses or that I show against several world champions. I'm not intimated by the trainers even tho I show AOTS...I've had Morgans longer than most of them.

    I think my problem is that at home I have unlimited do overs, start overs, walk and think for a while but from the time we leave for the show I'm terrified of showing. And it gets VERY BAD when I'm in the make up ring. I actually believe I don't like to show. Until I'm home and then I can't wait for the next show. And then I do it all over again. This has been going on for 3 seasons. I'm watching a Morgan show streaming from KY horse park and despite the heat I SO WISH I WAS THERE SHOWING. I showed there last year and the place is wonderful.

    I've order 3 books (Jane Savoie among them) on riding anxiety and anxiety in general. I really need to work thru this because what I want most for myself is the relaxed fun that everyone else is having...chatting in the make up ring, laughing, smiling. In the pictures, my expression is like a woman facing a firing squad.

    I've know my fellow exhibitors for decades and most of my women friends also show at the same shows. We are non-competitive and enjoy each other's company. They are always sweet, encouraging, complimentary.

    Sometimes I think I need somebody to slap me and tell me to shut up, put me on my pony and shove me in the ring yelling over the ingate "GET OVER IT"!

    I should add that I've never had a bad experience in the ring and aside from falling off a month ago after a freak spook, my horse hasn't taken a misstep in the 4 years I've had him. I call this my unreasonable terror.
    It's not an unreasonable terror When I used to do pleasure shows, (on a much much smaller scale I might add ) I would get so nervous at the show that I would hyperventilate in my sleep (in would go away when I woke up but I still was nervous). I found the thing that helped me the most was to not care anymore. I just had to tell myself, "Whatever. I dn't care, I'm probably going to lose, but I'm gonna smile and look good doing it." I know, that sounds counterproductive at a show, but I found that helped my nerves tremendously and I usually did better. Wish I could be of more help, but good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      What it is is "stage fright," like for public speaking, possibly with a touch of agoraphobia (when the gate closes, I can't get OUT of here!") thrown in. Perfectly legit, and common as the grass!

      But you CAN get out of the gate. You have to talk yourself down from this by saying, "If I don't feel well and need to leave, I can ride quietly to the gate and the steward will excuse me." Which is true.

      Then ask yourself, what's the WORST that could happen in the class (given that Western Pleasure seldom results in fatalities)? You blow a lead or he gets tense or something? And the consequences of this would do what to your life exactly? Unless your mortgage payment is riding on that blue ribbon, not to worry!

      If all else fails, google "Combat Breathing" or "Square Breathing." It'll knock down just about any panic attack or adrenaline dump known to mankind--or at least prevent it from hijacking your body while you need to function. It works for guys pinned down in foxholes, and it'll work for YOU!

      Above all, tell yourself the outcome is unimportant, you're there to ride well and have FUN!

      Best of Luck! Report back on how you did!
      Last edited by SwampYankee; Jul. 6, 2012, 05:53 PM. Reason: add

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you. Very reassuring that I'm not the only one. I will definitely read up on the breathing...I'm sure I don't breathe! And it compounds any problems I might have in the ring. Harry is a very laid back boy and he does best with a relaxed rider. He probably wonders what the heck happened to me.

        I forgot to add that for me it isn't about the ribbons at this point. I don't worry about winning or placing...my concern is riding right! He will never be in contention for the top ribbons until I ride him well enough to *show* him in his best form. So I don't go in thinking it's all on the line.

        I like getting all gussied up with the glitter and all and would love to just enjoy the party!

        btw, I think my next show is in September.
        Ride like you mean it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have debilitating performance anxiety. I finally had enough - nothing was working for me - and my doctor got me on Xanax. It was the best decision I ever made. It allows my brain to slow down and think when I am on course. Instead of having a whole round of my brain saying I am going to die, I can actually function, count my strides and sit up. I take it when I take lessons as well, and it has gotten me over the falling off the cliff feeling that I was having.

          Don't rule out chemistry if you need it.
          My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
          ReRiders Clique

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I'm sure if I was flying over fences, I'd be calling for pharmaceuticals RIGHT NOW!

            I haven't ruled any solution out! I really want this.
            Ride like you mean it.

            Comment


            • #7
              I suffered from a similar, crippling performance anxiety at horse shows when I was in high school. At that time in my life, horses/showing/dreams of being successful were everything to me and I didn't have a very good balance between the energy I devoted to the barn and the energy I devoted to the rest of my life (which at that point was ok - I still got great grades and stayed out of all the trouble my non-horsey friends got in).

              What I found though was that once I diversified my interests a little and got more perspective on life outside of horses I was able to simultaneously view a horse show as being "very important" and yet also in the big scheme of things a rather silly exercise of sitting astride a four legged animal and asking it to jump over colorful sticks.

              My instructor initially tried the soothing, nice, "you can do it! we believe in you!"/talk about my feelings sort of approach which was successful some days, but not others. Eventually it became apparent that a "Dammit, kid, all you have to do is get the horse around the ring/course. I know you can do it, you know you can do it, so quit being nervous and get the job done" approach was more successful for me.

              Now when I show I try to think in terms of what I can control. Can I truly control my nerves? Sometimes, no. Can I control my breathing? Yes. Can I control the feel my reins are providing to my horse? Yes. Can I control the fact that sometimes horse might just have a bad day? No. I try to focus on a checklist of things I can control and mentally let go of things I can't. I sure wish it was as easy to do as it is to type!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Your last line make me

                It sure is easier said than done. I need to do just what your trainer said. Rein in my emotions and stop allowing myself to panic.

                I will make mistakes, we won't be perfect. Hell, we probably won't come close to winning...I show against world champions who are ALWAYS popular with the judges. But defeating myself before I even get on the horse isn't cutting it either.

                I'm glad you mention how silly this all is...I mean is there anything more useless to do with a horse than go round and round one way, reverse and go round and round the other way? At least you jump over colorful sticks~
                Ride like you mean it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I also suggest going to a small all breed local show near you. Go with a wacky friend who will cheer you on and keep you laughing uncontrollably. Go in EVERY SINGLE CLASS you are eligable for. Ride lightly, don't try to kill the old horse. But just flood yourself with in, round n round, out till you're so relaxed and exhausted that it doesn't matter any more.

                  Practice what needs practicing.
                  ...don't sh** where you eat...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Glad you are able to catch the silliness of it all too, in spite of your anxiety.

                    Winfieldfarm's suggestion is a great one - the first horse show I can remember truly having fun at is when a friend threw me up on her quarter horse in a big ol' western saddle and entered me (an eventer) in every event at a "play day"/gymkhana.

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